24 Jun 2024
 | 24 Jun 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Impact of Extratropical Cyclones on Coastal Circulation in a Semi-Enclosed Bay within the Humboldt Current System

Josse Contreras-Rojas, Piero Mardones, and Marcus Sobarzo

Abstract. This study examines the hydrodynamic response of the Gulf of Arauco, a semi-enclosed bay within the Humboldt Current System, to the passage of extratropical cyclones and their associated changes in wind patterns during the austral winter. Characterization of these cyclones over central Chile and their effect on the gulf's meridional wind was conducted using ERA5 atmospheric pressure fields in conjunction with a cyclone tracking algorithm. The hydrodynamic response was assessed through ADCP observations at two strategic sites, providing valuable insights into the currents at the gulf's connections with the open ocean. Measurements were conducted from July to September 2016 and May to July 2018. Additionally, the main modes of subtidal current variability were compared with the local wind through coherence wavelets, revealing a direct influence of cyclones on the modulation of the gulf's currents. Our findings suggests that intense north wind events, associated with the passage of extratropical cyclones, can cause surface water transport into the Gulf, accumulating at the Gulf's head. This results in a pronounced pressure gradient, driving a water outflow through both connections with the open ocean, thereby altering the coastal circulation patterns. As the north wind decreases, the surface inflow in the northwest region attenuates, allowing the water to exit at shallower depths. This mechanism suggests a vital role of cyclones in renewing the waters of semi-enclosed bays such as the Gulf of Arauco, potentially reducing the water residence times. Consequently, these insights provide a broader understanding of wind-driven coastal dynamics, highlighting their significant impacts on marine ecosystems and coastal management in similar semi-enclosed bays globally. By contributing to the broader knowledge of the interaction between atmospheric and oceanic processes in coastal regions, this research offers a comparative perspective applicable to other regions affected by similar atmospheric phenomena.

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Josse Contreras-Rojas, Piero Mardones, and Marcus Sobarzo

Status: open (until 21 Aug 2024)

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Josse Contreras-Rojas, Piero Mardones, and Marcus Sobarzo
Josse Contreras-Rojas, Piero Mardones, and Marcus Sobarzo


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Short summary
Our study explores how a semi-enclosed bay in the Humboldt Current System, responds to the passage of extratropical cyclones. Using ERA5 data and ADCP observations, we found that intense north winds associated with these cyclones drive surface water into the gulf, creating pressure gradients that alter coastal currents and might reduce residence times. Our findings enhance our understanding of wind-driven coastal dynamics, impacting marine ecosystems and coastal management globally.